Elementary Student Support Groups - WTOC-TV: Savannah, Beaufort, SC, News, Weather & Sports

04/22/03

Elementary Student Support Groups

With nearly 2,000 of Beaufort's Marines, sailors and Naval aviators deployed to the Middle East, there are many children missing their moms and dads. So Coosa Elementary's set up a support group to help them deal with the separation. Both the boys' and the girls' deployment clubs meet every week for about an hour during school to give them some extra support while their parents are deployed. Today, the group only had good news to share: recent letters, pictures, and stories.

"The main goal is so they don't feel alone with this, they can come here and have a support group," said guidance counsellor Cheri Lopatka.

"We talk about our feelings and makes me sort of feel better," said student Maria Bischoff.

Classmates Veronica and Natalie Rosario added, "We have to go here so we can feel much better."

And to help them all feel better, they express their feelings with pictures, poems, and letters.

"When you do the writings, and stories, you're able to get them to talk about their feelings," said Lopatka. "Once one starts, they all jump in and share and they go, 'Yeah, I feel that way too,' so it's good support for them."

The club started in January with just a few students, but by the time the first bomb dropped, it grew to nearly 25.

"You could see they were concerned with what's going to happen, what might happen," noted Lopatka.

But now, as things are calming down in Iraq, they've got good news to share, as dads are able to call in more frequently and pass along updates. Maria Bischoff told us, "He's going to be back for my birthday."

Reported by: Jaime Dailey, jdailey@wtoc.com

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